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Farmers’ Protest on PM’s Route Was Spontaneous, Says Punjab Govt Report as Centre Mulls Action Against Cops


In a report to the Union Home Ministry on security lapses during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state, the Punjab government has said that the farmers’ protest on the route taken by the PM’s cavalcade was “spontaneous”.

Sources said the “factual” report was submitted by the Chief Secretary after the Centre asked the Punjab government for an account of the incident that led to the PM being stuck on a flyover on the Ferozepur-Moga highway for 20 minutes due to a blockade by protesting farmers. The incident has been described by the Ministry of Home Affairs as a “major lapse” in VVIP security.

Detailing the sequence of events, the Punjab government’s report has said that the route agreed upon for the PM’s travel had been cleared of protestors on Tuesday evening after the local administration agreed to meet a delegation of farmers. The protesters, however, returned to the spot on Wednesday morning.

“Protests were happening all over the state. Nine farm unions had announced protests. We had informed the Centre about these protests,” an official quoted the report as saying.

As per sources, the report goes on to say that the PM’s route was clear when the decision for road travel was taken. However, “some farmers came spontaneously on the route.”

The Charanjit Singh Channi government in Punjab has also informed the Centre that it has set up a two-member panel to probe if there were any lapses on part of the police and administration in security arrangements for the PM.

The Centre, meanwhile, is mulling action against Punjab police officials for alleged failure to secure the PM’s convoy. Officials said that under Section 14 of the SPG Act, the state government cannot escape its responsibility.

Section 14 states: “It shall be the duty of every Ministry and Department of the Central Government or the State Government or the Union Territory Administration, every Indian Mission, every local or other authority or every civil or military authority to act in aid of the Director or any member of the Group whenever called upon to do so in furtherance of the duties and responsibilities assigned to such Director or member.”

Action under this Act could mean the Centre summoning state officials on deputation. Similar measures were taken against West Bengal police officials after BJP president JP Nadda’s convoy was attacked in December 2020 ahead of West Bengal Assembly elections. The Home Ministry had then directed IG South Bengal Rajiv Mishra, DIG Presidency Range Praveen Tripathi and SP North 24 Parganas Bholanath Pandey to report to Delhi for deputation with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD). The three officers, however, were not released by the state government.

The lapses in PM’s security has triggered a major political row as the BJP alleged the ruling Congress in Punjab “tried to physically harm” the Prime Minister, while other parties too attacked the state government over law and order. On the defensive, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi denied there was any security lapse or political motive behind it and said his government was ready for an inquiry.

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